Find out what happened to Allan Drake, one of several Mob-connected comedians in mid-century America. His connections got him huge gigs at The Flamingo in Las Vegas and the Copacabana in New York. Those same connections would destroy his life and keep his name from reaching the history books. Hear from Mob-era comedians Jack Carter, Dick Curtis, Shecky Greene, and more.

That’s the description for Episode #1 of Kliph Nesteroff’s premium podcast miniseries, Classic Showbiz: “The Hood, The Schmuck & Miss New Jersey Legs.”

It’s great pulpy nonfiction, as Nesteroff narrates like a private eye in the 1950s, complete with an appropriate soundtrack and soundbites from his lengthy phone interviews with old and sometimes now-dead comedians. Marc Maron and Brendan McDonald from WTF executive produce the miniseries, and Maron himself introduces this free sample.

Other episodes out already include:

  • Episode 2: “To Hell in Mink.” The star of several comedy records, Ray Bourbon was arrested and jailed at every turn. At various times this pioneering gay comic was a millionaire, animal hoarder, and accomplice to murder. This deep dive chronicles how a gay man came to comedy prominence in the 1930s only to live out his life in a small-town Texas prison cell. Episode features queer artist/historian Seth Eisen and rare audio of Ray Bourbon’s act recorded in underground clubs.
  • Episode 3: “Moms Mabley: Agitation in Moderation.” Moms Mabley was one of the very first women to do stand-up comedy. But due to the fact that she was Black, gay and female, her national fame came long after she was a veteran. Addressing race on stage well before the Civil Rights Era, she was beloved in the African-American community for her humor as well as her politics and unique, innocent yet gruff, demeanor. Arguably the most influential female voice in the history of stand-up comedy. Episode features new audio from Whoopi Goldberg, George Schlatter, Jimmie Walker, and others.
  • Episode 4: “Far Out.” Psychedelics have long been associated with the music of the Sixties, but seldom mentioned is its influence on stand-up comedy from Lord Buckley to George Carlin, The Smothers Brothers to Richard Pryor. This chapter emphasizes the positive influence LSD had on the comic mind.Episode features comedians George Carlin, Marc Maron, Chris Rush, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, Lord Buckley’s daughter Laurie, and more.

Classic Showbiz with Kliph Nesteroff is available on Stitcher Premium and Howl.